Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer spent considerable time laying into Apple's recently-launched iPhone, which has attracted huge media attention, although many critics argue that's it's garnering more than its fair share of uncritical comment and the usual Apple hype.

Ballmer complained about the iPhone's lack of a keyboard and its high $499 price - which if Apple's traditional policy holds true is likely to translate into a UK price of £399 when it reaches these shores later this year.

Ballmer made the point that, were it not for the Apple hype machine, the hardware itself isn't anything particularly special. He told InformationWeek that the hoo-hah was solely a result of the brand, saying that other manufacturers were producing similar devices costing less.

Microsoft's CEO went on to point out that the iPhone costs about five times as much as some phones with similar features, such as devices based on Windows Mobile made by the likes of Motorola, Samsung and Palm. He also might have had in mind LG's soon-to-be-released, Prada co-designed LG-KE850 which, although the screen offers a lower resolution, does have a memory slot and is smaller. Announced today, it goes on sale in the UK for €600 (about £395).

Ballmer also said that the iPhone's lack of keyboard meant that those who needed to do significant amounts of typing would shy away from it.

He did, however, say that it had been nicely executed.